Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr responded Monday to the release of the DOJ Inspector General’s report stating that the FBI ‘launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”
Barr blasted the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team that led the investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and the evidence uncovered by Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the bureau agents withheld exculpatory information from the secret court, failed to adequately vet the information supplied by former British spy Christopher Steele and moved forward to spy on the Trump campaign knowing they misled the FISA court.
…the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process, Attorney General William Barr
“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” said Barr. “It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration.”
“In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source,” Barr said. “The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.”
Barr said “FISA is an essential tool for the protection of the safety of the American people. The Department of Justice and the FBI are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to rectify the abuses that occurred and to ensure the integrity of the FISA process going forward.”
He noted that FBI Director Christopher Wray is “dismayed about the handling of these FISA applications.”
Barr also noted that the Department of Justice will “follow all appropriate processes and procedures, including as to any potential disciplinary action” with personnel involved in misleading the secret court.
“I have full confidence in Director Wray and his team at the FBI, as well as the thousands of dedicated line agents who work tirelessly to protect our country,” he said. “I thank the Director for the comprehensive set of proposed reforms he is announcing today, and I look forward to working with him to implement these and any other appropriate measures.”
Horowitz noted that in August, 2016 while FISA discussions were ongoing with members of the the Crossfire Hurricane team “conducted a consensually monitored meeting between an FBI (confidential human source) and Carter Page in an attempt to obtain information from Page about links between the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign and Russia.”
Further, during that operation, discovered Horowitz, Page had made statements to the (Confidential Human Source)”that would have, if true, contradicted the notion that Page was conspiring with Russia.”
The FBI, however, failed to include any of this information in their report and moved forward to obtaining a FISA.
“Page also made statements that contradicted the Steele reporting received by the team in September, in particular the assertion that Manafort was using Page as an intermediary with Russia,” stated the IG report. “However, as we detail later•in this chapter, we found no evidence the FBI made Page’s statements from this CHS meeting available to 01 or NSD until mid-June 2017.”
Moreover, Horowitz’s report contradicts reports from Democrats that the FISA on Page did not rely on Christopher Steele’s dossier. In one significant footnote on Page’s FISA, Horowitz noted that his team spoke with former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about the testimony attributed to him in the January 18, 2018 under questioning from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The memorandum from Majority Staff at the time stated that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department ofJustice and the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (HPSCI Majority Memorandum) that “Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.”
The Inspector General’s report detailed the how the “FBI OGC Unit Chief contacted the NSD 01 Unit Chief on September 21, 2016, two days after the Crossfire Hurricane team received six of Steele’s reports, to advise that the FBI believed it was ready to submit a formal FISA request to 01.”
“As the OGC Unit Chief stated in an October 19, 2016 email to members of the Crossfire Hurricane team, ‘we first raised the issue of [a] potential FISA [targeting Carter Page] early on-maybe the 2nd or 3rd week of the case. But we didn’t have serious discussions until we got the actual [Steele] reports (maybe the day after?).’
The Crossfire Hurricane team received the first set of Steele’s reports on September 19, 2016, according to the IG investigation.
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